« FöregåendeFortsätt »
might save your girl from everlasting burnings. O, why this coldness? Why this indifference about children's souls? Alas! I know the secret. The truth is—parents care not for their own souls. Can we then expect them to be anxious about any, however dear to them?
They take precious care of their bodies, but their poor souls are dead. Yes, dead in sin. They labour very hard for daily bread for their bodies, but their souls have no appetite for heavenly food. This we see by their actions. If they hungered and thirsted after good things, we should see parents anxiously flocking to God's house for a meal for their souls. Alas! now a trifle keeps them at home on a Sunday. They have the children to watch, the dinner to mind, the house to keep. Their souls may starve. O they do not deal thus with their bodies. Do we ever hear a mother say, "I have had no time to get a meal to-day”.? And what do they do with their children, their dinners, and their houses, while they trudge off to market?
Parents, pray that the Holy Spirit may put life within your souls. Then we shall see you anxiously taking your children in prayer to Jesus, in the spirit of him who said, “Master, I have brought unto thee my son.”
FAILURE OF POTATOES.
WE fear, indeed, that this almost necessary of life is failing this year more largely than it did the last. It is some relief to think that the trial does not press with equal weight on all parts of the kingdom; since, in some parts, the poor make little use of potatoes. I am now writing in a midland county, where I am surprised to find that the poor chiefly use potatoes only for their pigs. And so it is, I believe, in many other counties in the south. But it is not so in the north, where poor families in general depend largely on potatoes for their daily food; often having little more for both dinner and supper than a panful of potatoes, with salt and onions. Nor is it so in Ireland, where potatoes may be said to be the poor man's all. The rich can turn from one failing article of food to another; so that the trial is little felt by them. And indeed the poor might, to a great extent, do the same. But we are sad creatures of custom, and are strangely wedded to our old habits and ways; and are often thus led to forsake our own interests. If the poor would only lay themselves out to make the best of things, and to act according to circumstances, there are many ways in which the want of potatoes might be made up without much more
in this way:
expense or loss any way. Rice is a grand help. Where properly cooked, it will not be found very expensive, and it is certainly very wholesome. Peas, too, may come in very well, especially a new kind lately introduced; while a careful cottager, with his bit of garden, will do a great deal with green vegetables. There is nothing better than turnip tops. They are used to a great extent through the winter in London. I saw them often last year at gentlemen's tables both in London and Brighton. The farmers might help their poor neighbours out of their turnip fields largely
Where there is a cheerful willingness to make the best of things, and to submit to what God may permit to befal us, much may be done in many ways to meet a difficulty.
But what a lesson does this failure of the potatoes, one year after another, teach us! What a voice from heaven is there in this mysterious dispensation! Mysterious indeed it is, for the wisest men are wholly at a loss to account for it. An immense sum of money has been spent by government in employing the cleverest men in the kingdom to search it out; but they are just where they were when they began. The potatoe disease puzzles the wisest heads. No one can tell its cause; no one can find out a remedy. We fain hoped that we should hear no more of it, and yet the accounts from all parts of the kingdom are as bad as possible. Crops which a few weeks ago looked so splendid, and which, when examined, promised the largest increase, are all going.
And what is there to prevent this serious and mysterious mischief recurring again and again, year after year, till it becomes a matter of past history, instead of present experience, that potatoes were amongst the first necessaries of life? And what is there to prevent a similar calamity befalling the wheat crops, or other grains ? and not only in Britain, but elsewhere? I cannot but think that God is speaking to us loudly in this national visitation. He would rouse us from our ungodly independence. While all things continue as they have been, how apt we are to take all as a matter of course, as a right, as a sure and as a deserved inheritance.
We strangely forget our true condition as sinners, who deserve nothing; who have forfeited every thing, even the commonest mercies, by sin; to whom the air, and the light, and the water are unmerited blessings! We need indeed to be brought to our senses herein: to feel how entirely we live, and move, and have our being in God -in his providence, in his grace. If we really and truly felt this, what different living there would be! How our streets, and yards, and alleys, would be filled with family worshippers! How our villages would be thickly set with family altars! Men would not dare to receive daily mercies—in sleep, in clothes, in shelter, in food-without making their daily acknowledgments. Men would not dare to venture on a new span of life—a new day, a new hour, with all its wants, and all its dangers--without invoking the Divine favour, and presence, and blessing. But alas ! alas! how far are we from all this! What numbers of prayerless, ungodly families yet abound in Christian England! To what numbers amongst us may the Scripture be applied—"The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" !
Now, my readers, let us humbly listen to the voice of God, going through the nation and calling us to a better thought. We see how soon and how easily “the labour of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no meat: the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls.” What godly lives then should we be leading! that is, lives spent with God-in bis fear, in his love, in his worship and service. How we should seek and value his favour, on whom we entirely depend for every thing! For then nothing can come wrong to us. If God is our friend, as the God whom we are daily loving, and serving, and depending upon, then it is our comfort to see his hand in every thing, and to believe that he will appoint all for our real welfare ; so that we can rejoice and be thankful under all the changing scenes of this passing, uncertain world, knowing that God is making all things to work together for our good. And thus we can take up the language of one of old, and say: “The Lord gave and the Lord bath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.'
We may depend upon it, my dear readers, we are hastening into times when we shall need all the support of true, practical, personal religion that we can get to ourselves. Every thing is shaking: every thing is as it were on a quicksand: every thing human : not the foundation of truth; not the foundation of grace : all is rock there, which the infirmity of man cannot affect, and against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. “ The foundation of God standeth sure ; having this seal, [this double inscription on the seal]: The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
But the visible Church of Christ in its various departments is shaking, and governments are shaking, and the temporal and social interests of men are put in jeopardy; and all, all is telling the perilous times of the latter days. Then, to be found in Christ, clothed in his righteousness, wrapt up in his covenant, nourished by his promises, beautified with his graces, guided and illumined by his Spirit-be this our aim; this the best gift that we covet earnestly; this the object of our labour, our wrestling, and our hope; and then we have a hope that will not make ashamed; and in the world's decay and failure, we have a treasure that we take along with us into a world where there is no canker, “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.”
How many of my readers, as they have been travelling through several parts of England, have seen little boys in the fields scaring the crows (as they call them, though they are in reality rooks,) from
They have seen the little fellows, some of them sitting on gates and stiles, shouting at the top of their voice, and others scampering across the corn rattling their rattles, driving the rooks and sparrows from one part of the field to another. This is called “bird-keeping;” or, rather, keeping the birds off the corn. It is not practised in all parts of England; for there are some who think it is not worth the expense to pay boys three-pence a day, and others suppose that the birds do more good in destroying the insects than they do harm. No doubt the rooks devour quantities of that destructive worm, called wire-worm, and they pick up some of the grain in doing so. But farmers can please themselves, and those who employ the boys are putting a few pence into their parents' pockets, though I have no doubt it would be far better for the boys to be attending a good national school than passing their whole days under the hedges in the fields; and tired enough must they be of the work. Glad must they be when the Sabbath-day arrives. Yes, glad must those be who are given their Sabbath-day; but how surprised will some of my readers be when I tell them that in some parts of England the farmers compel the lads to remain in their fields all the whole Sunday! Compel them! How can they compel them? Do not their parents insist upon their children resting on the Sabbath-day, and sending them to Sunday-school, and taking them with them to church? They dare not insist upon it. Gladly would they have them out of the fields on the Sabbath; but what do the farmers tell them?-" If your lad does not work for me on Sunday, he may go about his business; I shall have nothing to do with him." And so the poor timid parent, who has the fear of man before his eyes, more than the fear of God, and has not courage to say nay, gives way, and lets his child go and spend his Sabbath in the fields.
FARMERS, I have a word for you. Pray give ear to it. Allow me to ask you whether you know what you are about? Can you, on your conscience, compel those poor children to spend their Sabbaths in the fields, when they ought to be at church and Sunday-school? Have those children no souls? Do they require no instruction? Do you employ them six days in the week, and will you not allow them one day, and that the Lord's-day, for being taught their duty to their God, and their duty to their neighbour, and instructed in the way to heaven? How will they grow up In ignorance. Will they be moral, and honest, and upright? Will they be fearers of God? What kind of servants do you think they will make you when they are men? Will they tell you the truth? Will they not rob you of your property? Will they not
be swearers and ungodly? What can you expect of them when you have compelled them, forcibly compelled them, to spend their Sabbaths in the fields, and withheld from them that instruction which might have rendered them useful and worthy members of society, and by which they might have been taught the way to the kingdom of heaven? Oh! I would not be in your place for all the world—no, not for the lands and the corn that you could give me, or the gold or the honours which the wealthiest monarch could present to me. Oh! what a responsibility rests upon you! Farmers, farmers, believe me, it will sink you down into the lowest pit of hell. You can never stand up against it. God will not suffer this at your hands. There is no excuse which you will be able to allege, that will render you guiltless at God's judgment-bar. For the never-dying souls of those poor children, you, you will have to give an account_their blood will rest upon your heads. You have shut the kingdom of heaven against them. You would not go in yourselves, neither would you let those go who would. Do you say it is necessary, and that you are not called
to suffer your property to be destroyed? I deny it. It is not necessary. I can speak from experience. I have had corn fields between the fields of those who have employed “bird-keepers” on the Sabbath.day, and my neighbours could testify to my crops not being a whit inferior to those beside me. I
there would be no loss - none worth mentioning. And suppose there was, will you not give that small, that very small quantity of grain, of which the fowls of the air might rob you on the Sunday—are you not ready to give that up for the good of the poor lads ? Will you not sacrifice what you would never miss, in order that those poor ignorant boys may learn what the birds in the fields can never teach them? Can you go with any comfort, (to say nothing of a clear conscience,) and sit in your spacious pew, and worship with the people of God, while you have left behind
poor boys to idle away their whole Sabbath, to spend their Sunday with the birds under the hedges, to grow up in ignorance and vice? How can you? Oh! I beseech you give up this iniquitous custom. Never mind what others do. Let them damn their own souls; but don't you. Begin afresh. The Lord has blessed you with a beautiful harvest, shew him you are thankful. You will soon be putting in your wheat. Then commence anew. Tell your “birdkeeping” lads on the Saturday night, that you will not want them next day. Tell them to be sure to go to Sunday-school, and keep the Sabbath-day aright. Trust God to take care of your grain. Be not faithless. Give your lads the Sabbaths which God has given them and you; and believe that the God who makes your seed to sprout and spring up and bring forth fruit—who calls to the rain to descend upon it, and the sun to shine upon it-believe that that same God can and will fill your bosom with a far greater abundance than you are so anxious to secure on the Sabbath-day.
PARENTS,- I have a few words for you. Remember that however